How To Play Against Choppers In Ping Pong

If you’re an active table tennis player, then chances are you’ve gone up against choppers in your time.

These types of players can be quite difficult to deal with for the inexperienced and require strategy rather than brute force. To that end, we’ve put together this article with all of the information you need to know on how to play against and beat choppers.

Once you read through our guide, you’ll have all of the information you need! 

What Is A Chopper? 

Before we get into the strategies, it’s proper to understand the terminology and learn what a chopper actually is. To put things simply, a chopper is just a very defensive player that likes to put a lot of backspin on their shots. They wait for the other player to attack and give up the initiative

Table tennis player isolated on black

Using a backspin puts a lot of spin on the ball so be prepared to see many of your practice shots fly off in unanticipated directions!

Then, they’ll respond accordingly and use a variety of different strikes to essentially negate the attacker’s shot. Going up against this type of player can be quite difficult, especially for the inexperienced. Going up against a chopper usually means the game will slow down quite a bit.

Additionally, having your shots essentially negated can be a frustrating experience, so it’s best to be prepared. 

What Kind of Shots Does a Chopper Use? 

While a chopper will use shots that are typical among other ping pong styles, the most powerful and common tool they have is the backspin chop. This type of shot is a slow, floating shot that counters the high amounts of spin seen in more aggressive forms of play.

Using this, a chopping can slow down the game to their pace, even when up against really aggressive players who favor speedy, spinny shots. The strategy behind these shots is that it makes it difficult for someone to continuously attack.

If their opponent tries to “muscle” their way through the chops, they may find some success. However, it’s more likely that the attacker will eventually tire out from using so many smashes and other techniques. Additionally, the slow down in gameplay can be frustrating and ultimately works to get into the head of the attacker. 

Some attackers won’t tire out, or they’ll switch to a more defensive playstyle. In this case, the chopper can use different shots to mix things up. They’ll likely throw in a loop or even a big smash attack to throw their opponent off their game to keep them guessing.

While this definitely might seem like a playstyle that can’t be beaten, there are strategies and steps you can take to defeat a stubborn chopper. 

Beating A Chopper

Now, it’s time to discuss how you can beat someone who is a chopper. The first step to this is finding out just what kind of chopper they are. What we mean is, study them if you can. Especially if you’re in some sort of competitive setting where you can watch them during warmups, a different match, or while they’re training.

By doing this you may be able to decipher what the weak points are in their strategy and gameplay. The reason you should study your opponent, if at all possible, is because the strategies we will discuss are general. Every person plays differently, no matter how similar they may be to a typical chopper, they will always have some sort of slight variation.

Therefore, you must learn to adapt! Something else you can do is ask to see the racket of your opponent before the game starts. It’s important to know what kind of rubbers that your opponent is using. Most choppers will make use of short or long pimples on their paddles as it is the best type to use for chopping.

Be careful though, some players like to keep secrets and might swap out their paddle once the game actually starts! The next thing you need to keep in mind when playing against choppers is to be patient. A good chopper will do everything that they can to ensure that you make an error of some sort in the middle of play.

If you try to rush things by relentlessly attacking, then they’ll no doubt discover some sort of weak point in your gameplay. You need to read how much backspin your opponent is putting on the ball, in order to judge what shot you should use.

Man playing tennis on dark background with lights

Being versatile and adaptable with your shots is crucial when playing against a chopper.

Deciding on a shot type in the heat of competition can be a daunting task to players at first but this will come to you easily as you practice. Remember, the only way to get better is to keep trying and always improve. Something else you should always do is mix up your shot types.

If all you’re doing is sending over super-powerful shots with lots of spins, then the chopper you’re up against will easily be able to get into a rhythm of sorts and will always be able to deal with what you send at them. This is why you need to change up all of the factors of your shots.

That means changing the speed, spin, and placement on the table. A general tip to play against choppers is that they tend to play far away from the table. Therefore, shots that are slower and land close to the table will have a higher chance of causing an error on their part.

That being said, it’s not unlikely that they’ll adapt to this in some fashion so be careful of overusing short pushes. The use of a lot of topspin can also mess with choppers. Your typical chopper will not be able to handle shots that have a lot of topspin on them.

However, be careful when going up against more experienced players as they will have likely developed a strategy for this. Finally, something that cannot be overstated, is keeping your cool against choppers. As a beginner player or just someone who doesn’t face choppers very often, this playstyle can be very difficult to deal with.

Don’t beat yourself up if you lose a point or two while you’re trying to figure out how to counter their playstyle! 

Bringing It All Together (Final Verdict)

So, to sum up, when playing against choppers you should: Study your opponent and their paddle if possible, use a lot of topspin on your shots, mix up your shots when necessary, be patient, read the amount of backspin on their shots, and keep your mind clear.

By utilizing these tactics, you will certainly have an easier time when your opponent is a chopper. 

Riley Draper

Avid table tennis player, world traveler, and content creator. Follow on Twitter. Connect on LinkedIn.